Leprechauns want a pot of gold for statue
THE race is on to immortalise Billy Slater in sculptural form after Melbourne led with a shoulder charge and announced it was erecting a statue before his home town.
The Victorian Government has unveiled plans to commission effigies of Slater and his Melbourne Storm co-star Cameron Smith to be placed outside AAMI Park.
It followed an effort by the Cairns Post to get a statue honouring the proud Far North Queenslander in the most logical of spots, his beloved Innisfail where he grew up and played his first game of footy for the Leprechauns.
There was speculation the humble hero would not appreciate the hullabaloo - Cassowary Coast Regional Council Mayor John Kremastos reckoned big-noting was not his style.
That supposition has now been blown out of the water with this latest announcement.
Innisfail Leprechauns president Nick Souvlis said the Queensland Government could do better than the run-of-the-mill bronze being proposed down south.
"Someone like Billy deserves a statue of pure gold, doesn't he?" he said.
"Our main oval at Innisfail is called Billy Slater Oval and I'm sure people will be pushing for something to go here.
"The Victorian Government nominated the two statues in Melbourne, so we could do the same here."
Innisfail is fiercely proud of its golden boy and the long stretch of star players to come out of the footy-mad Cassowary Coast production line - Lionel Williamson, Trevor McDonald, Kerry Boustead and Angelo Crema all played for Australia.
Mr Souvlis said Innisfail would always roll out the welcome mat for Slater, more so than the crowd in Sydney that booed him at Sunday night's grand final.
"That was a bit disappointing, especially for a guy like him who has never created trouble for anyone in his entire career," he said.
Cr Kremastos said the council was exploring a couple of options to pay homage to Slater but a statue was unlikely.
"We want to recognise him in some way but we haven't finalised anything or contacted Billy yet," he said.
"We wanted to wait until the finals were over."